“If this trend continues, charities will be competing for decreasing numbers of donors for a decreasing amount of money,” says the report.
It found that, in the past year, there were significant decreases in giving among men aged between 25 and 44 and those in routine and manual occupations. When men give, they appear to give more than women, according to the report, but only because a small number of men are very generous.
The most lucrative market for fundraisers is married women aged between 45 and 64, those in professional or managerial work and the wealthiest quarter of the population.
Medical research was the most popular cause, followed by children and young people, then hospitals and hospices. The largest proportion of money donated, 17 per cent, went to medical causes in 2006/07. Religious causes received 16 per cent of the total.
Giving cash was the most common way of making a donation, but direct debit, credit cards and cheques raised the most. The larger the donation, the more likely Gift Aid was to be added.
“We don't know yet if this is just a blip, rather than a trend of people becoming less generous to charity,” said Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO. “We hope that worries such as increasing debt and rising house prices won’t put people off giving.”
The research was based on 3,629 face-to-face interviews with UK citizens aged over 16. Interviews took place in June and October 2006 and February 2007. One person per household was interviewed.